He opened the door of a clock and drew out a revolver which he examined carefully and thrust into his pocket. Mary groaned; Humpy beat the air in impotent despair. The Hopper possessed himself also of a jimmy and an electric lamp. The latter he flashed upon the face of the sleeping Shaver, who turned restlessly for a moment and then lay still again. He smoothed the coverlet over the tiny form, while Mary and Humpy huddled in the doorway. Mary wept; Humpy was awed into silence by his old friend’s perversity. For years he had admired The Hopper’s cleverness, his genius for extricating himself from difficulties; he was deeply shaken to think that one who had stood so high in one of the most exacting of professions should have fallen so low. As The Hopper imperturbably buttoned his coat and walked toward the door, Humpy set his back against it in a last attempt to save his friend from his own foolhardiness.
“Ef anybody turns up here an’ asks for th’ kid, ye kin tell ’em wot I said. We finds ‘im in th’ road right here by the farm when we’re doin’ th’ night chores an’ takes ‘im in t’ keep ‘im from freezin’. Ye’ll have th’ machine an’ kid here to show ’em. An’ as fer me, I’m off lookin’ fer his folks.”
Mary buried her face in her apron and wept despairingly. The Hopper, noting for the first time that Humpy was guarding the door, roughly pushed him aside and stood for a moment with his hand on the knob.
“They’s things wot is,” he remarked with a last attempt to justify his course, “an’ things wot ain’t. I reckon I’ll take a peek at that place an’ see wot’s th’ best way t’ shake th’ kid. Ye can’t jes’ run up to a house in a machine with his folks all settin’ round cryin’ an’ cops askin’ questions. Ye got to do some plannin’ an’ thinkin’. I’m goin’ t’ clean ut all up before daylight, an’ ye needn’t worry none about ut. Hop ain’t worryin’; jes’ leave ut t’ Hop!”
There was no alternative but to leave it to Hop, and they stood mute as he went out and softly closed the door.
The snow had ceased and the stars shone brightly on a white world as The Hopper made his way by various trolley lines to the house from which he had snatched Shaver. On a New Haven car he debated the prospects of more snow with a policeman who seemed oblivious to the fact that a child had been stolen—shamelessly carried off by a man with a long police record. Merry Christmas passed from lip to lip as if all creation were attuned to the note of love and peace, and crime were an undreamed of thing.